Recap: When Grey’s Anatomy/Scandal/How to Get Away With Murder writer/creator/producer/extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes realized she said “no” a lot, she decided something needed to change. Her sister had pointed out to her during Thanksgiving a few years ago that Shonda Rhimes, the woman who runs ABC’s Thursday night TV show lineup, may have been saying “yes” to more work and more amazing shows — and for that, we are forever grateful — but she wasn’t doing much for herself or her children. When she came to this shocking revelation, she decided that for one year, she would say “yes” to anything and everything that scared her.
And she so wonderfully documented it all for us. She said “yes” to attending events and giving speeches that she would normally turn down without hesitation. She said “yes” to watching what she ate and taking care of her health for the first time in years — and lost a ton of weight doing it. She said “yes” to doing what she wanted, even if that meant losing some friends along the way and ending a relationship. She said “yes” to playing with her children more often. She said “yes” to getting help from a nanny. And then she said “yes” to putting it in a book so we could learn the ways of her almighty awesomeness and badassery.
Analysis: My telling you many of the things Shonda Rhimes said “yes” to does not ruin the book in any way because this book is about so much more than saying “yes” to your fears. It’s about finding yourself and growing up, even when you think you already have. Year of Yes is a unique combination of memoir and self-help book that not only inspires, but energizes. I learned so much about Shonda Rhimes’ life and world, including all the fun details and anecdotes I’d hope for from any memoir. She writes a lot about her family, her career, and her kinship with the character she created, Christina Yang. But I also found that I had some of the same fears as Rhimes does, the same fears that many women have.
This book taught me how to take a compliment (because I deserve it!), and it taught me that difficult conversations are important to have, even if you think you might lose a friend (he/she probably wasn’t a very good one anyway!). I gained a new outlook and perspective from this book. And what’s better: it’s written in the very way Rhimes writes her TV shows. It felt familiar. Rhimes felt like my friend. It was like I could hear Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey or Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope saying certain sections of the book out loud. It became clear to me how much of Rhimes’ personality comes out in her TV characters, so it was nice, for once, to see her come out of her shell through this book instead of hiding behind one of her characters.
MVP: Shonda Rhimes. Publishing a book like is courageous. I couldn’t help but think of all the formerly close friends of hers buying this book and reading the sections about them. Putting it all out there is a scary thing. It is the ultimate “yes,” and Rhimes astounded me by doing it.